The 2013 vintage began with a warm, dry spring and relatively early bud break. Summer was notably consistent with even, warm temperatures throughout. Harvest began quite early in August, and by September the majority of whites and lighter reds were completely off the vines. Overall, it was a high quality crop that was above average in quantity. Grapes for the 2013 Private Reserve Chardonnay were harvested between September 11th and 24th. Beringer’s northernmost Chardonnay vineyard and the primary source of the 2012 Private Reserve Chardonnay, Gamble Ranch is located near the town of Yountville, in the Oakville AVA, where daytime temperatures slowly climb as the cooling morning fog recedes south to San Pablo Bay. This significant diurnal shift allows the grapes to maintain their acidity, which is essential to balancing the ripe, rich flavors they develop during warm afternoons.
Each Chardonnay lot was kept separate throughout the aging process. After sending the fruit directly to press, winemaker Laurie Hook fermented the juice in French oak barrels (80 percent new) to enhance the natural richness in the wine. Weekly lees stirring enhanced the toasty notes, and integrated the oak flavors for an overall balance. All of the wine was put through malolactic fermentation to encourage a lush creaminess. After 9 months aging, Laurie chose the most expressive lots and blended them to create a richly layered wine with aromas of crème brulee and rich citrus and fruit flavors.